What The 1st Time New Pool Owner Needs To Know   

by Pool Builders on 11-24-2013 in Articles

Every new owner's worst nightmare is a green pool - that's the first thing you'll need to know, and quite likely the first thing you'll learn. Returning a pool back to its rightful clear state is a time consuming process. Often the return, involves a toxic €shock€ treatment; an overdose of chemicals for your pool. The best solution, is to not let the pool water to get that way in the first place.

The ways to keep your clear pool safe and clean, can be accomplished by several different means. All methods start with good maintenance. Monitor the levels of whatever sanitizer you choose, ensure all the components are working, regularly brush (or autovac) the underwater surfaces (especially the side walls and corners) every 2-3 days for the best result, and be sure to clean your skimmer basket as frequently. Seems simple, but showing your pool the love/attention it needs, is the very best way to keep it sparkling. The frequency with which you'll have to perform these tasks will vary by sanitation type.

Chlorine is obviously the most common. We grew up in chlorine pools. Chlorine cleans by breaking down into several chemicals; this includes hypochlorous acid (HCOL) and hypochlorite ion (OCL). These chemicals kill bacteria and other organisms by attacking the cell walls and destroying the bacteria and algae structures. Chlorine should be regularly added to the pool water to maintain a sanitized pool. The amount and frequency will vary based on pool size, bather use, surrounding environment, and sun exposure (as this speeds up the chemical breakdown). Note: Chlorine has been attributed to the particularly high rate of asthma1 among young swimmers in comparison to other athletes in various sports along with observations of dental erosion2 in swimmers.

Salt Chlorinators are a new favorite - making swimmers feel like they are ocean side rather than pool side. Salt chlorinators use electrolysis to breakdown salt (sodium chloride). The breakdown ends up becoming hypochlorous acid (HCOL) and Sodium hypochlorite (NaCLO). Basically a salt generator makes chlorine and follows a similar sanitation process as the chlorine tablets and shock. Again, like nearly all pool systems, the amount of input (in this case salt) will vary based on pool size, use and sun exposure.

Ozone in one form is another treatment process, originating from the oxygen in the water creating O3 from O2 which can be harmful to the swimmer if breathed in. Like the salt generator it uses an electrical process to charge the oxygen atom in water into O3 to attack the organic matter it comes in contact with. A downside is it has a half-life of about 20 minutes meaning the O3 generated will breakdown by half in 20 minutes and be gone in about 40 minutes. This makes it necessary to constantly run the water over the ozone cleaner to keep the pool water clean - what it means is that only the amount of water that could have passed through the ozone chamber less than 40 minutes ago is clean. In an average pool of 15,000 gallons capacity, it can take anywhere (depending on pump gallon rate per hour) from 8 to 10+ hours to run all the water in a swimming pool through the ozone chamber. It frequently requires the addition of Chlorine to be fully effective. Another ozone method is Ultra violet (UV) light, which kills bacteria when it is exposed to the UV light in the light chamber, known as sanitizing at the €point of contact€. This method is limited because bacteria in the pool water can only be attacked back at the install position of the chamber near the pool pump. This means of sanitation also requires an oxidizer usually in the form of chlorine.

A final option noted in this article is the ionization/oxidation system made by ClearSwim. This type of system is a complete method requiring no chlorine since it has a built in oxidation method (eliminating the requirement for chlorine). Note: a basic Ionizer made by many in the pool industry, requires oxidation to be effective - usually in the form of chlorine - the same requirement as the ozone system.

The ionization/oxidation method uses electricity (the electrolysis process) to charge copper and silver electrodes (ionization portion). Charged copper is then released into the water to seek out algae, as it is a natural algaecide. Silver is a natural bactericide. When it is charged it naturally seeks out and arrests bacteria in the pool. The natural minerals stay in the pool water (known as €residual€ sanitizers - as opposed to €point of contact€) waiting for the introduction of bacteria and algae into the water, ready to do its job to clean whenever necessary. With this last type of cleaning method, although far more natural, there is a possibility that the surface of the pool may be tinted a slight blue in color if not properly maintained to the water condition requirements. In most pools that are of a color nature the tinting is not noticeable. On a white plaster surface there is more of a chance of tinting if the pool keeper does not ensure that the usual water requirement conditions are not maintained consistently to the proper guidelines.

In the end, keeping your pool clear depends on how well you treat it and the level of research done upfront on the right treatment method for your needs. The best advice is to do your research, and know your pool and its usage. This will ensure an enjoyable recreation just out your back door. €Enjoy€ your pool!

1 Fisk MZ, Steigerwald MD, Smoliga JM, Rundell KW. Asthma in swimmers: a review of the current literature. Phys Sportsmed. 2010 Dec;38(4):28-34. doi: 10.3810/psm.2010.12.1822. Review
2 Jahangiri L, Pigliacelli S, Kerr AR. Severe and rapid erosion of dental enamel from swimming: a clinical report. J Prosthet Dent. 2011 Oct;106(4):219-23. doi: 10.1016/S0022-3913(11)60126-1.

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